Centre mulling new steps to make states cooperate in cleaning rivers

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New Delhi, Sep 30 (UNI) Concerned over the increasing pollution of the Ganga, Yamuna and other major rivers, the Centre is considering signing Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with state governments to secure their commitment for keeping the sewage treatment plants operational.

Most of the sewage plants installed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in states remain disfunctional or partly functional, with the result that thousands of litres of city sewage was falling untreated in the rivers.

''Once states sign an MoU for the sewage treatment plants, they will be bound to maintain them and keeping them operational,'' a senior official of the Ministry told UNI.

Talks with the state governments and other ministries concerned were going on, he said.

Annually, 29000 MLD (Million Litre Per Day) sewage was produced by cities and towns in the country, as against which there was installed capacity for treating only 6000 MLD sewage.

''The pathetic situation can well be imagined by the fact that even this insufficient capacity was not being utilised to the full,'' the official said.

Thus non-cooperation by state governments has been the major hurdle in executing river cleaning projects.

Crores of money in creating assests like sewage treatment plants etc under the river action plans has gone down the drains due to apathy of states, says the Ministry.

Timely and adequate funds are needed for execution of plants, but states show failure on this count. There are also cases of non-availability of power supply for operation of the plants.

lack of expertise is also one of the problems.

The Ministry prepares the river cleaning schemes on the basis of current estimates of the pollution load of the rivers. But because of the continuous increase of the population along the banks of the rivers leading to their pollution gap and in the availability of financial resources to take up the works of commensurate with the requirements, there is always some backlog left.

The most polluted stretch of any river is that of Ganga from Kannauj to Varanasi, and for Yamuna, Delhi strecth was the worst.

''In fact talks with the Ministry of Water Resources was going on for creation of two or three dams for increasing flow of water in the Yamuna in Delhi. The water stored in the reservoirs would be released during the lean the season to maintain the flow of water, the lack of which has mainly been responsible for turning the river into a virtual nullah of sewage,'' said the official.

He said that though the Ganga Action Plan and the Yamuna Action Plan had not been able to attain their objective, the situation would have been worse had they not been implemented.

UNI

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